Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 23, 2020 – Year A
Readings: Lv 19:1-2, 17-18 / Ps 103 / 1 Cor 3:16-23 / Mt 5:38-48
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Mark Twain, the famous American writer during the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, once said: “If you look out on a cold winter’s night, with the snow and sleet coming in, and you see under the lamppost a little puppy, and the puppy is shivering because it is open to the elements. If you go down and you pick the little freezing puppy up and bring him upstairs, and you wash him with warm water, and you put him near the fire, and you feed him the best that you have to offer. That dog will never, never bite you.” And then he goes on, “That’s the main difference between dogs and human beings.”
Most of us here are old enough to realize this sad reality. In my thirty-four years in the ministry I have seen elderly parents in nursing homes who are never or very seldom visited by their children. Sons and daughters who didn’t attend their parent’s funeral. But I am glad to say that I’ve never, never seen these sad incidents here in our Christian family in Holy Name of Mary. And I consider myself blessed to see children and grandchildren in our parish standing, sitting around their mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, until his or her last breath.
But the fact remains that people do sometimes forget the good that we have done for them. And there are even times that those who benefited from our kindness and generosity will even turn against us. What are we supposed to do when this happens?
In the gospel that we have just heard, which is taken from chapter five of St. Matthew, the Lord Jesus gave us one of perhaps the most difficult commandments in the sacred scriptures, when He said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father.”
In this particular verse, the Lord gave us the commandment on how to respond and how to make it easy for us to carry it out, when He asked us to pray for our persecutors. If you haven’t tried praying yet for the people whom you love to hate, try it. I guarantee that it works every time. It will prevent you from punishing yourself unnecessarily, for this is what we do when we harbor resentment in our hearts.
But we may say, How can I do this? I am just an ordinary human being. But the Lord Jesus said that we are far from ordinary. We are children of our Heavenly Father.
In the Book of Leviticus, which we heard in the first reading, the Lord said to Moses: “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.” In the gospel, Jesus said: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
We will always be works in progress as we continue to be true to our identity as God’s chosen ones. The good news is that we have the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us.
But needless to say, we also have to do our part. St. Teresa of Kolkata once said:
“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
“If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
“The good you do today people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.
“Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you have anyway.
“Because in the final analysis, it is between you and your God. It was never between you and them anyway.”